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Airstrike on Yemen bus kills children

A man holds a boy injured in the airstrike in Saada, Yemen, on Thursday. (Reuters)

New York: A Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a bus carrying children in rebel-held northern Yemen on Thursday, killing and wounding dozens.

The bus had been travelling through a busy market in Dahyan district, northern Saada, at the time of the raid, which Houthi rebels' Al Masirah TV reported killed 39 and wounded 51, "mostly children".

"Scores killed, even more injured, most under the age of 10," Johannes Bruwer, head of delegation for the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yemen, said in a Twitter post.

ICRC said one of the hospitals it supports was treating the wounded.

"It is high time for these relapsing tragedies to stop in Yemen," said Robert Mardini, the ICRC's regional director. "No one should allow putting children in harm's way and making them pay such an unacceptable price."

The Houthi rebels control much of northern Yemen, including the capital Sanaa. The Dahyan district in hit on Thursday lies close to the border with Saudi Arabia.

In recent weeks rebels have fired missiles into the neighbouring kingdom, including on Wednesday in an attack which left one dead.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition, which intervened in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognised government to power after it was driven out of the capital Sanaa by Shia rebels.

The coalition, which receives logistical support and funding from the US and UK, has been criticised for its indiscriminate bombing on civilian areas.

Thursday's strike was one a relatively high death toll for the war, which has so far claimed the lives of some 10,000 people and described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Martin Griffiths, the UN special envoy for Yemen, has been pushing to bring the warring parties to restart peace talks. He recently announced plans to invite Yemen's warring parties to Geneva on September 6 to hold the first round of consultations.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Yemen, Nevio Zagaria, said it has deployed emergency supplies. "I am extremely saddened by what happened in Saada ... The attack on civilians is not acceptable." The alliance says it does not intentionally target civilians and has set up a committee to probe airstrikes. 

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